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171 of 193 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dictionary with a yellow ribbon marker, 7 Mar. 2004
This review is from: The Chambers Dictionary (Hardcover)
Ever since my grammar school days I have used only Oxford dictionaries. Purchasing the Chambers
makes me feel like I am having an affair with another. Is the Chambers worthy of the risk of a
long-lastig crisis of conscience?
Well, it is a very large tome. A tome with a ribbon marker; something which neither my Shorter
Oxford nor Concise Oxford have. More cabin baggage-on-a-trolley format than the Concise Oxford's
briefcase format.
The page layout is modern - the use of a san-serif font gives the page an uncluttered look. The
headwords are printed in bold letters and the rest in normal letters. The Concise Oxford uses a
serif font for the definitions, which I find better.
None other than Melvyn Bragg wrote a short Foreword. It is quite interesting, but one does get the
feeling that it is doing more to promote his book about the history of English than sing the praises
of the Chambers 9th.
Pronunciation is indicated by a system of respelling which, if you are used to the phonetic
alphabet, may be a problem. If, like me, the phonetic alphabet was the problem, the system of
respelling will come as a blessing.
The encyclopeadic content of some other dictionaries is more or less absent. The Oxford Paperback
English Dictionary has an entry about Stephen Leacock which you will not find in Chambers.
Similarly, you will not find usage panels with helpful hints and tips. I guess this is a dictionary
for advanced adults who rarely need guidance.
One of the selling-points of the Chambers is the coverage of older English words. I have not
checked to see how many there are. I normally grab the Shorter Oxford if I need to look up an
obscure word.
Now for some negative stuff. The couple of things mentioned above were more sources of
disappointment than losers of valuable marks. However, there are a couple of things which cause me
to intersperse the ticks with a couple of crosses. A word like EUROSTAR. How long has this fast
train been in service? Well, you will not find it mentioned in the Chambers 9th, but you will find
it in the Concise Oxford. As an aside: the Chambers Pocket Dictionary of 2001 does not even have
the word EURO! The first cross for the Chambers 9th.
The second cross I have given for the layout of the word entries. Chambers uses a block for the
headword and all related words. This text is, for some headwords quite daunting indeed. No use is
made of numbers to distinguish between the nuances of meaning; just play hunt the semicolon. All
derivatives of the headword are placed in that same block of text in bold letters. For shorter
entries that is no problem. Forlonger ones, it makes finding words a lot more tiresome. The word
ETHNIC will serve as an exampple. The adjective has in the Concise Oxford 4 numbered definitions,
plus just one for the noun form. All the derivatives of ethnic have their own headword entry down
the column. The Chambers has a block of text contiaing semi-colons for the main definition followed
by all the derivative in one large block. Total size of all that text: 7,5cm wide by 10,5 cm high!
If you really want a shock, turn to page 1375 and follow the entry for SELF- (it is one block of
text extending on to page 1377). This definitely is a dictionary for advanced adults.
The definitions are clear and helpful and do not really stand out from other dictionaries - at most
multiple definitions are ordered differently.
To sum up, this dictionary is ideal for adult masochists who neither need information about persons
or places, nor travel on the Eurostar nor mind searching for semi-colons instead of being presented
with numbered definitions. My relationship with this book is going to fall into the category
love-hate. A crisis of consicence will be the least of my problems; I will willingly rish one. I
will use Oxford when I am tired and Chambers when my morning coffee kicks in.
This dictionary deserves a place on your bookshelf. If in doubt, visit the Chambers website and
view the pdf file extract of this and all their dictionaries.
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